Part of the field work at the Napanee and Carden sites is to visit nesting sites every 3-5 days to monitor the development of the chicks and success of the nests. Though it is important not to anthropomorphize the shrikes that we watch, it is apparent that each bird has a unique personality.
Here are some of Napanee’s most charismatic loggerhead shrikes.
Despite loggerhead shrikes being a songbird species, they do not vocalize as much as other birds. Therefore when finding shrikes, we often see them before we hear them. The Bard is the exception to this rule. He can usually be heard before he is spotted. Unfortunately, despite his best efforts to attract a mate, he remains unpaired. See the video below to check out The Bard singing away.
The Red Bandit
This banded female was the first shrike found in Napanee. She was banded last year and returned to the area this year. Unfortunately, the red bandit disappeared for an entire month. For a while, she was almost like a figment of my imagination. We named her the Red Bandit after her red band and hoped one day she would be spotted again.
Suddenly she reappeared in an area that was surveyed every 3-4 days. Still, she never seemed to settle down with her mate. From then on, she was always flying around, never in one spot for too long, and most importantly, never visiting one tree repeatedly to indicate she had a nest. We decided this pair was simply not mating this year. That is, until the Red Bandit appeared with four fledglings in tow, truly living up to her name.
Prufrock & Count Olaf
This pair was our last pair to be found in the Napanee area. Prufrock was first spotted perching atop a horse carcass and named in reference to A Series of Unfortunate Events. The bird was presumed to be female due to what appeared to be a brood patch (missing feathers on the breast), and her lack of singing. After being observed for a full hour in which she perched atop the dead horse, a mate appeared!
AHA! It was Count Olaf in disguise all along! The true Prufrock had been incubating the entire time, and only came out to receive a morsel from her mate before returning to her nest.
Garfield & Odie
Garfield and Odie were always difficult to find on Mondays. It seemed, like the cartoon character, they too hated Mondays. Once the nest tree for this pair was located, it became clear, that this pair was the best shrike parents we had on the Napanee Limestone Plains. Garfield and Odie visit the nest and feed more often than other pairs. Through their dedication, they have fledged four young. See Odie feeding the four fledglings in the video below.
Both Garfield and Odie were banded this year. These bands help with identification in the future. With luck they will return next year and be just as successful.
Napanee Shrike Biologist